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August 26, 2018 8:41 am

Israel’s Glushko Qualifies for US Open

avatar by Alan Zeitlin

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Julia Glushko after qualifying for the 2018 US Open. Photo: Alan Zeitlin.

Moments after her match was over on Court 9 on Friday, Julia Glushko put her hands over her eyes — as if she could not believe what she saw. With no margin for error at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, she had to beat one last opponent to qualify for the US Open.

The Israeli tennis player showed flashes of greatness in 2013, when she made the third round of the US Open, defeating Nadia Petrova and Sacha Vickery — but such success had eluded her since.

On Friday, Glushko, 28, found herself against Anastasia Potapova, a 17-year-old hard-hitting Russian. In a close first set, both players struggled to hold serve. In the tie-breaker, Glushko won the first two points, and though Potapova stormed back, Glushko ultimately emerged victorious. In the second set, Glushko imposed her will on her opponent, sending her all around the court. She pumped her fist after several powerful shots that Potapova could not return. Potapova, who had hit some artful winners in the first set, including a beautiful lob over Glushko’s head, looked frustrated in the second set; on several occasions, she shouted at herself.

Friday’s match followed one on Thursday, where Glushko trailed 5-2 in the second set, but ultimately triumphed to best Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, 6-2 and 7-5. With Dudi Sela, Israel’s usual representative on the men’s side, out due to injury, it was either Glushko or bust for the main draw. And she came through.

“It feels so good,” Glushko said after the match, before posing for selfies with fans. “I love New York.”

As she hugged a friend, she had tears in her eyes.

Glushko is coached by Amir Haddad and Keren Shlomo. Shlomo, who shouted words of encouragement such as “Every point!” and “This is yours!” during the match, said that the player’s comeback is an impressive one because of how far she has come. Ranked 288th several months ago, she entered the qualifiers ranked 162nd.

“She worked hard and she was very aggressive, but remained calm,” Shlomo said. “She gave her all. She wants it and she deserves it.”

Glushko will earn $54,000 for making the first round of this year’s tournament. She also made the third round of the French Open in 2014. That year was the last time that she made the US Open, when she lost in the first round.

Her first round match will take place on Tuesday against Romania’s Monica Niculescu, and all who show up can look forward to Hebrew chants as well as fans with kippot. Glushko will look forward to being back in the spotlight, and to getting some rest after her two recent matches.

“I’ve gotta get some sleep,” she said.

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